I flew out of my author’s nest last week to be a guest at February’s McDougall Advanced Study Weekend. An unprecedented affair, the headliners was a fleet of all-stars – one after another. And catching up with plant-based buddies from all over the country – over mountains of good food no less – an absolute joy. I’ll tell you more about this event in a moment. First as promised an update on the progress of my book The Plant-Based Journey – a A Step-By-Step Guide for Transitioning to a Healthy Lifestyle and Achieving Your Ideal Weight. (Ben Bella, 2015). It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to send out a newsletter or post a blog article but I couldn’t delay another minute in breaking out of the manuscript process to check in with you.
The Plant-Based Journey journey
Yes, I did just write “journey” in the subheadline here twice. Not only because that’s the title of the book coming out from Ben Bella publishing (China Study), but because the writing process has been a journey of its own. With a manuscript deadline of May 1, it’s pretty much all I do these days.
I’ve gotten into a great rhythm: I awake usually between 4 and 5 a.m. (I need less sleep the farther along I find myself on this plant-predominant journey) and my mind starts chomping at the bit to get to my writing station and get started. I love the quiet of the morning, it’s good time for me and I can hunker down by my computer, hot mug in hand, and author away.
Breakfast is usually about seven, and then we’re out the door for the morning ramble. I’ve been running three miles every morning since last July, and it’s not only become simply automatic to do, it’s become my morning muse. It never fails – as soon as my feet hit the ground, the ideas, connections, and inspirations about the turn of a phrase start flowing.
I used to stop and jot things down, but it would stop the flow. Now I just keep going – sometimes faster, sometimes slower, often a mix of both – and as soon as I get home, tell Greg I’ll see him in about half an hour because I’ve got to download everything that bubbled up for the book NOW. I’m thinking it’s really making a difference – but then you can be the judge of that when the book comes out. I ran each morning on the beach in Mexico, to where Greg whisked me off on a getaway in January-see photo- where I worked on the book every day at the beach house.
The mornings are booked solid with writing – my standing work station is serving me beautifully – and every other day or so I break before lunch to do some resistance training, usually a combination of Fit Quickies, including some new moves I’ve added to the mix. Sometime I’ll have to show you my knuckle squats. If you’re going to be at the PCRM International Diabetes Conference in Washington D.C. this July, I’ll be teaching them there during my morning presentation.
I’ve also been honored to have such support from the plant-based world with some absolutely wonderful interviews over the past few weeks. Dr. T. Colin Campbell is very enthusiastic about the book, and graced me with 40 minutes of phone time! I see him as a major nutrition paradigm shifter of our time – and his book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition underscores the theme of wholistic reflected in The Plant-Based Journey. I also spoke at length with his son, Thomas Campbell M.D., co-author of the China Study. Michael Greger, Pam Popper, Howard Lyman, Victoria Moran, Hans Diehl, Nick Cooney, Brian Wendel of Forks Over Knives – somebody pinch me!
And of course, the plant-based journey surveys YOU completed for me in preparation for the book have been a goldmine of information. You shared so much that will be so valuable to people following you on the journey, and it makes for such rich book content. My publisher loves all the personal touches as well. I knew it would go over big – don’t you just love the parts in books when people tell their personal experience with something you are trying to achieve, or in which you are interested? Thank you, thank you survey responders – YOU are paying it forward and will make a difference in ways that you’ll never know.
Back to a day in the life on the book. Then it’s time for lunch, huge salads and sandwiches and soup. I purchased a new food processor a couple of months ago and it allows me to crank out big bins of grated carrots, cabbage, and anything else I can throw in there. I’ve really gotten into legumes beans in a big way! Yesterday I pressured cooked a big pot of velvety black beans, and for dinner I made curried split peas with kale and black rice. I’ll include a snapshot for you. I’m also developing some recipes to use in The Plant-Based Journey, so that gets into the food mix as well.
After lunch, afternoons are back to research and writing, and then we take another walk late afternoon before a lovely dinner and then it’s play time! Reading, movie (we’re Netflickers) – and that’s when I also catch up with the course I’m teaching at the college.
Oh! I haven’t told you yet! Fit Quickies was adopted as required text at the college level for a Kinesiology Course. It’s called Quick Fits and runs in an online setting, so I have student videos to view and Google Hangouts for meeting up in real time with my students. It’s such an exciting development and I love that students are getting 1.5 University credits for doing their Fit Quickies! Then it’s sweet dreams in our new organic cotton, botanical latex bed that I absolutely adore.
Animal Compassion Tour
In addition to the Nutrition Studies Weekend, I took another weekend away to be part of a group of twenty others on the Animal Compassion Tour. We drove in two vans from Sacramento, CA to LA to bear witness – with video and pictures – to the multiple horrors and problems with factory farming. It was tough to take the time from my book but I wouldn’t have missed it and I knew it would be good book karma anyway. Here’s a photo of our group just before liftoff from Sacramento. Video in production as we speak.
We arrived twelve hours later in LA, where we met up at Sharkey’s in Beverly Hills with good friend Chef Aj. Yes, we tromped in with our farm boots on and had a fabulous burrito dinner and of course huge slices of a cake Chef Aj had made to celebrate Linda’s birthday –
Linda – you may know her as co-creator of V-Dog veg dog food – being the inspiration and organizational energy behind the A.C.T. After an overnight at the hotel – a fabulous interlude because I got to room with my good friend Colleen Holland – co-creator of VegNews magazine.
The next day it was up early for breakfast – we crashed an excellent eatery and darling Chef Aj gave me a gorgeous jacket that she insisted looks better on me than her – imagine! See photo left. Another twelve hour farm tour back to Sacramento. We had mixed welcomes from different ranches, of course.
The most troubling was Harris Ranch in the Central Valley, housing some 90,000 head of cattle in feed lots. You could smell it coming five miles down the freeway. They didn’t like us there – though we followed all protocol, asked permission to take pictures, stayed in our van and were very polite. All on the up and up.
McDougall Advanced Nutrition Studies Weekend
Taking place just a couple of weeks ago, this may have been the most entertaining Advanced Study Weekend yet. The headliner speaker lineup was enough to make your head spin. T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, and Michael Greger for starters. I’m including more photos for you here.
We also heard from David Simon, author of Meatonomics a must read to give you updated details about what’s happening with government subsidies and the meat and dairy industries – and Marlene Zuk, author of Paleofantasy. She spoke from the perspective of evolutionary biology and paleo diet rationale. Actually, she was a riot. Also Baxter Montgomery, Susan Levin – my favorite R.D. and who does the nutritional reviews of my books, Dr. McDougall of course, and his son Dr. Craig McDougall as well. And who doesn’t love catching up with the adorable Mary McDougall? The hits just kept on coming. I reported on all at depth on this month’s Healthy Happy and Fit Club call, so if you haven’t listened to the download yet, I know this will inspire you!
Right on the heels of the Advanced Nutrition Studies Weekend, I was honored to be one of the presenters at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento as part of their One Book program. Each year, campus-wide, they select a book as theme for discussion and events. This year it is Michael Pollan’s Omnivores Dilemma. Dr. McDougall was a presenter earlier this year. That a reception! The students and staff were enthusiastic, inquisitive, playful, and absolutely made me feel like a star. Thank you Cosumnes and keep up the progressive attitude!
I hope you’ll forgive my several week absence from posting here at the Plant-Based Journey Blog. I’m sure you understand – and I just couldn’t take it anymore, not having spoken with you for awhile, so I closed all my manuscript files and came here to report to you. I’m down to the wire on manuscript due date of May 1 – which may sound like far away but to me it feels like tomorrow. I need 48 hour days – I’m sure you know the feeling.
For now, the research and interviews that have been part of this process underscore more than ever the unparalleled power that just eating more plants, less of everything else, and moving your body have to deliver the best of healthy and energetic lives. I haven’t found any research that concludes eating a diet with lots of animal products and processed foods combined with taking as much time off our feet as possible leads to vibrant health, reversal of disease, and best shot at longevity. In contrast, for plant-based eating and an active lifestyle, the evidence is all over the place.
P.S. I was on the Dr. Don Medical Hour Radio show in February, and the link to the recording just went up: Dr. Don Medical Hour with guest Lani Muelrath . Don is a plant-based MD in Arizona and we had a lively conversation about the state of the plant-based movement. Fun and energizing! It’s my third appearance on Dr. Don’s show and he has an amazing inventory of interviews on his site from the last few years of shows – do a search on the site for all your favorites!